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Some offer and copy ideas from Fred's swipe file.

Taking my cue from the 20th anniversary issue of Inside Direct Mail (see story on page 3), whose archive is probably the world's largest swipe file, here are some offer and copy suggestions from the swipe file that every copywriter should keep.

Build your list of benefits. I received a standard "comp copy, no obligation" offer from a new title, but I liked the way they were able to stretch such a simple offer out to a six-part listing of "Charter Perks and Freebies":

1. Free Premiere Issue (There are people who collect these)

2. No strings (Send no money now)

3. Save Now (Special charter offer price)

4. Save Always (Renew at the lowest available rate)

5. 100% Guarantee (All your money back at any time)

6. Owe Nothing (Just write "Cancel" on the bill)

Stuck for a phrase in copy? Can't stand writing "You learn" or "Find out" one more time? Here's a handy list of alternatives:

* Determine whether you need

* Observe

* Hear first-hand analysis

* Go home with

* Benefit from

* Arm yourself with

* Clear up your dilemma with

* Unravel the mysteries of

* Free yourself from

* Get expert testimony on

* Who'd have thought it

* Uncover

* Get the inside story on

* Identify how to

* Unearth how

* Investigate

* Scope out

* You'll know for sure

* Explore your options

* Profit from

* Gain insight

* Uncover the secrets to

But, monotonous as it may become, it may be impossible to overuse the word "you" in direct marketing. It's hard to beat a letter from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers that, by the middle of page 3, has described 18 membership benefits, each beginning with "You."

"You get" 14 times, and one each of "You advance," "You receive," "You enhance," and "You stay up to date."

Personalization problems. Most marketers find personalization works, but how should you hand androgynous names like Leslie, Pat and Kerry and initials only like M.K. Goss? You don't want to offend Ms. Kerry Goss by addressing her as Mr., and I hope you won't use the salutation, "Dear M.K. Goss."

Why not combine personalization with the impact of a targeted solution. Use the inside personalized address as:

M.K. Goss

MK Publications

206 Cerry Street

Potsdam, NY 13676

Dear Newsletter Marketing Colleague:

Credibility enhancements (implied testimonials). When he was publishing a software title, David Coleman included his credentials in a lift letter biography. In addition to his accomplishments and books and articles published, I was taken by the section, "Names in my Rolodex." I'm not a techie, but even I recognized Bill Gates, Patricia Seybold, and Esther Dyson.

You could probably do this. I did fundraising for the U.S. Figure Skating Assocation and, consequently my battered address book includes the numbers for Peggy Fleming, Dick Button's office, Brian Boitano and coach-manager Linda Leaver, Nancy Kerrigan and agent (and now husband) Jerry Solomon, as well as various USFSA bigwigs.

Candor compels me to admit that I don't speak to these people every month, but doesn't it appear that I am tightly wired to the inside world of figure skating?

I strongly suspect that many editors could develop this type of list of implied testimonials.

Copywriting tips. Finally, while I've written about this before, I should credit Frank Grazian, one of the founders of Communication Briefings, with these copywriting "rules":

* Have sentences average not more than 17 words

* Restrict 60-70 percent of words to five letters or fewer

* No more than two ideas per sentence--preferably one

* Make 60-70 percent of sentences simple ones, those containing just a subject and predicate with no additional clauses.

Cherish that swipe file.
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Title Annotation:DM Notebook
Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Oct 18, 2004
Previous Article:The most persuasive tool in advertising and how to use it.
Next Article:Survey says: paper and postal mail increasingly popular.

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